Book Review: The Retribution by Dr. Shankar Kashyap

Kashyap’s psychological thriller is an exciting mix of drugs, homosexuality, double lives, and violence. Who really killed Dev?

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Rating: 4/5

Just as you think you’ve got the answer, Kashyap adds another twist in this grisly murder mystery replete with drugs, jealousy,homosexuality, intrigue, and violence. You must pay attention to every word if you want to keep up with the story because it isn’t straightforward in any sense. The descriptions of drug-induced hazes are particularly interesting—you almost feel like you’re in one yourself.

Kashyap writes so lucidly that you can feel the warmth of Mombasa and the chill of Leicester as Dev is rudely snatched away from his childhood haven. You feel sorry for him as he is unable to comprehend how and why the world is changing so quickly around him. Or is he? From Inspector Sean’s revelations of Dev’s writings in his little red book, it does not seem that Dev is quite as innocent as he is first made out to be. That’s the beauty of this tale—there are so many layers to it and uncovering one does not lead to a straightforward answer. Instead, it reveals a whole bunch of new questions. 

Dev’s adjustment with the climate, the language, and the culture of the U.K. is described in great detail, as is the rise in his social stature during early adulthood. He struggles to come to terms with his bisexuality as he attempts to make sense of his “urges” as well as his deep attraction to Sheena, a fellow Gujarati settled in the U.K.

Chapter by chapter, Kashyap unravels a narrative of Dev’sdouble life—a respectable priest married to a solicitor wife by day, and a frequenter of gay bars by night. You often wonder how his family never finds out, considering how close-knit Gujarati families are. You also get a glimpse of the grimy underbelly of the drug dealing world via the encounters of Dev with the likes of Lenny and the “gaffer” during his brief stint as a drug pusher.

Kashyap doesn’t make any judgments on Dev’s character as he describes how he tries to brush off his homosexual tendencies, only to be pulled in even deeper each time he sees a new “boy” at the temple.His visits to gay clubs under the guise of helping homosexual Asian men don’t fool anyone, apparently not even his wife.

Sheena is portrayed as the typical modern girl initially, until the murder happens. It is then that her character takes on grey shades and you do not know what to believe anymore. Until the end, which certainly feels like a cliff-hanger, you don’t know what’s happening.

Kashyap also describes the sorrowful life history of Sean, the inspector, who has a hard time getting his life back together after the brutal murder of his wife and child. Flitting from relationship to relationship, until the relationship with crack is what becomes permanent, he lives like a tramp and just barely manages to hold onto his job despite being a talented and resourceful officer. It is through his eyes that the latter half of the narrative plays out with its myriad twists and turns.

Sure, there’s a court scene—a drug addict is sent to prison for Dev’s murder—but did he really kill Dev? That’s for you to decide as you delve into Kashyap’s dark, dangerous world of drugs, sex, and violence.

(I was offered a copy of the book by Literoma Publishing Services in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)

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